One side lies about money; the other side does the same. The only sure thing in this sinister kabuki is that the rich will make out like the bandits they are, and the weakest will go to the wall. You can waste your time trying to parse every little twist and turn of the "policies" of these murderous poltroons, as they set about gutting the carcass of their own country and bombing the hell out of several others; you can pretend their words have meaning, that they aren't the howls and grunts of brutal degenerates given over, sad wretches, to evil ... But me, I'm off to read Machado, to hear himSing of the ordinary oak,the branch cut off by the axe,and the flower that no one looks at.Let the damned bury the damned in those vast marble tombs along the Potomac. I'm going to wash away their stench with a cool breeze from the blue hills of the Guadarrama. His words -- sharp, etched, subtle, true -- will take me there.
After Lear, walking unfamiliar streets in search of a pub, we found that we had circled back behind the theatre. There was a crowd bunching in a passageway, gathered around a small, white-haired man in a trim blue blazer; he was smiling politely, responding affably, signing programs proffered mostly by aged hands.Not twenty minutes before, we had seen him die on the stage beside his hanged daughter, in the great existential boomerang of their earlier, rapturous reunion."No cause, no cause," she had said then, as her hands sought his ravaged face – the shattering scene, the heart of the oeuvre, the enacted ritual of transcendent forgiveness, so much harder-striking, deeper-delving than any seen in the cathedral up the street. Was this wiped out by the double deaths, by the whispered roar of nothingness – its mocking laughter – that brings down the curtain? Or does the moment of enactment engender its own truth, incarnated, which survives independently of the onrush and backwash of time? The small old man, now returned to our common contingency, and strangely gnomish here with his sprightly manner, gave no hint of an answer, or of the slightest awareness that an answer might even exist.Or were the gentleness, kindness and show of interest he displayed, in each moment of flickering encounter, themselves the enactment of an answer?9 April 2011, Bath, England
In the LRB, David Runciman provides some telling insights in a review of recent books about the “off-shoring” of the world economy into tax havens, where the hyper-elite hide their money from the taxes and regulations that ordinary citizens are subject to. The review also deals with the political machinations involved in this corrosive process, which lies behind much of our dysfunctions and discontents. You should read the whole article, which provides rich historical context, but are some excerpts, in medias res:
Wise man William Pfaff speaks the truth like rolling thunder here:
The tombstone of Flavinus,from the Ala Petriana,stationed in Britain,shows him horsed, rearingabove a naked captive.This is the pose he desiredto carry his nameinto eternity: brandishingthe standard, proud, honored.The captive is lion-faced,wild and bearded,on all fours,clinging to a post,tensed for the blow.He could have come from Blake,some lost engraving,the carved lines chargedwith living frenzy,history’s flesh.
The blood and thunder (or is it thud and blunder?) of the American-led intervention in Libya has obscured one of the more revealing episodes of our times -- especially for those many millions who still cling to the idea that Barack Obama is somehow an improvement, however slight, over the ruthless, lawless, corroded souls who preceded him in the post of imperial manager.We speak of course of the American rigging of the election in battered, helpless Haiti -- a brazen effort to disenfranchise the majority of the population and ensure the election of a vicious -- but acquiescent -- client to the presidency. This sordid episode comes complete with a personal intervention by the Nobel Peace Laureate himself to try to continue the exile and persecution of the democratically elected Haitian president overthrown by George W. Bush in a brutal coup.Even as he was scheming with the CIA to put covert American "boots on the ground" in the Libyan civil war, Obama and his dream team have been maneuvering like mad to put one of a pair of right-wing fanatics into office in Haiti while excluding any other candidates from the running -- including those from Haiti's biggest political party. Obama also personally called South African President Jacob Zuma to ask to keep holding Bush-ousted former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Africa and prevent him from returning to his native land before the election.With the sublime hypocrisy that has become the hallmark of this most...
Arthur Silber, one of the most incisive and eloquent analysts writing today, is, in his own words, "sick, broke and scared." Silber is wracked by chronic and worsening health problems, which he is having to endure in dire poverty. Voluntary contributions to his website are his only source of income; but of course, when he is sick, as he often is, he can't post new material, and therefore donations drop off.
Ian Patterson notes that the air war unleashed on Libya by the Western powers last week coincides very neatly with the 100th anniversary of the first military air strike -- which was launched by a Western power against ... Libya. From The London Review of Books:
The American war against Libya grew in intensity on Sunday, raining death in all directions -- including on civilian vehicles and Libyan forces in full retreat. Behind the full-scale barrage launched by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the armed opposition led by recent henchmen of Moamar Gadafy pressed forward in a military offensive. Libyan soldiers were gunned down as they fled -- a reprise of the "turkey shoot" American forces conducted on retreating Iraqis back in the first glorious Gulf War. (But weren't they supposed to retreat? Wasn't that the purpose of the UN directive? Oh, it's so confusing!)Here's what happened today, following yesterday's hell-storm of 110 Tomahawk missiles:
When the UN intervention into Libya was first announced, we immediately heard how the United States would not be in the forefront of the military action; the lead would be taken by other nations, with US acting largely as a supplier and facilitator for the "broad-based coalition" arrayed against Libya (including some real live Ay-rabs! as the interventionists enthusiastically noted.) But it took less than two days to give the lie to this claim.On Saturday, just after the French -- who have extensive oil interest in Libya -- jumped the gun on the UN coalition and started attacking Libyan ground forces, the United States joined in with a missile attack on Libyan cities. Not a few missiles; not 10 or 30 or 50 missiles -- but a full barrage of 110 Tomahawk missiles, slamming into Tripoli and Misurata.This was always in the cards, from the earliest mooting of a "no-fly zone." This PR concept conjures up the idea of knightly pilots chasing the aircraft of the evil ones from the sky -- a jousting between combatants high in the heavens, far removed from the people below. But "no-fly zones" are always accompanied, of necessity, by attacks to "degrade" the "command-and-control centers" of the designated enemy of the day. (Almost always a heinous dictator swimming in arms and money given to him by the West before he did something to displease his patrons and business partners.) This means attacks on ground installations and headquarters -- which, as in the United States, are often...
I don't want to make a habit of using blog posts to respond to comments, but a reply to a recent piece in which I did just that seemed to me to call for a more substantial response than a comment thread can easily contain. So, begging your indulgence once again, here is the exchange: first the commenter's message, and then my answer.
(UPDATED BELOW)(UPDATED AGAIN)This just in: spurred on by the United States and Saudi Arabia, the UN Security Council has just authorized immediate military intervention in Yemen to stop the government's wanton slaughter of innocent civilians engaging in peaceful protest.